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There is a new viral hit on the web and it is called Sarahah. Haha what? Yes, that is the exact question millions of web users have as they see the Sarahah app popping up on their Facebook feeds. It is all over the place. You may have probably heard about the app already if you are on Facebook or Snapchat. It has become very popular, especially with the Facebook crowd that seem to be loving it. You may have seen tens of posts shared by your friends on Facebook about Sarahah. Wondering what is it all about? Let’s get all your questions answered here.

The Sarahah app was created by Saudi Arabian developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq who originally started Sarahah.com to allow employees to anonymously share their honest feedback about their company without feeling restrained in any way. He named his app Sarahah because in Arabic, it means ‘candor’, ‘honesty’, or ‘openness’. It was only later that he hit upon the idea of developing an app that would also pretty much do the same thing, but instead of corporate use, the app’s target audience was individual users who’d be able to share their thoughts about their friends, family and neighbors without having to reveal their identity.

How to use the Sarahah app?

Now that you know about the app and understand its risks, let’s explain how you can use it.

First step to become a Sarahah user and fool your friends, and confess something to someone is to install the application. If you’re an Android user, you can get hold of the app on Google Play Store, iOS users can download it from App Store. Upon installing the application, you now need to register with email ID, password, and name. You are now good to go. After creating an account with the Sarahah app, you can directly share the link to your Sarahah profile with Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform to let your friends know.

Now that your friends now know you are on Sarahah, they’ll send you an anonymous message, and all you’ll get to see is the message. There’ll be no name, no information about the sender anywhere. Similarly, you can also send messages to your friends. You can only receive the message and can’t reply to in anyway. However, it seems Sarahah will get that feature soon, as the websites state, “You can’t respond to messages now. We are studying this option.”

Note: The person you want to send the message via Sarahah must have installed the application. All you now need to do is type a message and send. This app is addictive. But, given that it is an app for fun, and should be used diligently without harming anyone.

Why is Sarahah so Controversial?

As mentioned earlier already, Sarahah has become immensely popular within a very little span of time, especially among teenagers. This has given rise to concerns among parents, social workers and child psychologists that it could be a breeding ground for cyber-bullying under the cloak of complete anonymity. While the company behind Sarahah claims that the platform allows people to discover their “strengths and areas for improvement”, others are critical of the fact that it is enabling people to say things that they wouldn’t have said in person. And as we all know, the sorts of things that you can’t tell others directly are almost always, fairly unpleasant.

That being the case, Sarahah has extremely low ratings for such a popular app. It is rated a lowly 3.0 on the Play Store and an abysmal 2.3 on the App Store, with hundreds of reviewers complaining about harassment and threats they have received through the app. At least one reviewer on Play Store even alleged that their 13-year old sister actually received a death threat aimed at their two-year old brotherthrough this app. Another reviewer, Keeran Williams, had a word of caution for parents. According to her, “Kids are using this to bully other kids. There’s no way of telling who they are so they think they can say anything. My 13 year old daughter had a deluge of sickening abuse and sexual harassment. I’ve deleted it off her phone. The Devs need to put more protection in place”.

This isn’t the first anonymous messaging app we’ve seen that blew up in popularity though. Yik Yak, Secret, and Whisper are some of the popular apps in recent times to try and fill this function.

For the most part, those apps have been more social, making the interactions more public. Sarahah’s focus is more on messaging and less on social media, and so visiting another users’ profile won’t show anything, unless they choose to make the posts public.

Ultimately though, allowing fully anonymous comments, and not allowing users to respond to messages means that it’s a possible avenue for bullying. It’s very trendy right now, but we’ve seen other secrecy based platforms buzz up and then fizzle out too. There are certain key differences to Sarahah, but it’s too soon to say whether it has what it takes to last longer than the others did.

Sarahah is available free on Android and iOS.

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